SYREETA BUTLER AND XOLO MARIDUENA GO IN ON THE ISSUES. CREDIT: AMBER SHOTTO
Actors from teen television web series Cobra Kai and Five Points visited the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley in Southern California last month to talk to youth about mental well-being, and they weren’t afraid to open up and share their personal experiences!
Xolo Maridueña, who co-stars on the YouTube Premium series Cobra Kai, which is based on The Karate Kid, and Spence Moore II, who is one of the leads on Five Points, the Kerry Washington-produced Facebook Watch show, were each joined by a mental health services professional and discussed suicide, bullying and peer pressure.
Maridueña and Moore’s talks were part of the #NoStigmasAllowed “Everyone Deserves Mental Wellness” three-part youth mental health series produced by digital PR company Media & Repertorie and funded by a mini-grant from California Mental Health Services Authority and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.
Paired with Syreeta Butler, a Culver City, Calif.-based licensed marriage and family therapist, Maridueña, 17, spoke candidly about dealing with his close friend’s suicide attempt last February. He says he was shocked when he received the call that his friend was in the hospital. “I arrived to the hospital and he was in a hospital bed and the first question I asked him was, ‘How did you do it?” Maridueña recalled. “He said, ‘I took a bunch of antidepressants, and I called the police.’”
Asking such a direct question got Maridueña’s friend to immediately open up about why he felt so depressed. “I thought, Shoot!. I hadn’t thought about my next question,” Maridueña said. “I didn’t think I was going to make it this far. I thought he was going to say, ‘I’m kinda uncomfortable talking about this.’ But he was flat out.”
Getting his friend to talk was key, according to Butler, who said the first step in these scenarios is to remember that the person you are consoling is still your friend. “They don’t need to be held with kid gloves,” Butler added. “They just need someone to talk to. The beautiful thing that came out of this is a dialogue.” Having someone to talk to is sometimes all that is needed, Butler explained.
Though Moore, 20, plays his school’s handsome, star football player, he admitted that he was actually bullied about his weight when he was in junior high school. “Seventh, 8th grade, that’s when I had my first encounter with bullying,” he shared. “I was going through changes in my body. I was a little bit chubby and people definitely harassed me for that.”
TANN AND SPENCE MOORE HAVE AN ENLIGHTENING DISCUSSION. CREDIT: AMBER SHOTTO
Eric, the character Moore plays on Five Points, does have something in common with the actor. “Like Eric, I really didn’t talk to anyone about that situation,” he said, referring to depression, anxiety and stress his character deals with on the show. “I would just kinda laugh it off.” But Moore advised the group not to handle things the same way.
“I don’t think that’s the best way to go about things if you have resources that you can use to put that to a stop,” Moore said. He encouraged the kids to “take their power back” and suggested their efforts could also encourage the bully to “turn a new leaf.”
Moore’s mother, Tann Moore, who is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Valencia, California. spoke alongside her son on the panel. She offered insight about some bullies. “Sometimes bullies are the saddest people,” she explained. “They don’t have anybody. Sometimes they have a really hard home life. They come to school and because they don’t know how to communicate they kinda are mean to people.” She said being nice to bullies can sometimes help.
The #NoStigmasAllowed series kicked off with a talk from Karli Webster from season 13 of The Voice and Advanced Certified Grief Specialist Sharon Brubaker.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Please seek out help if you feel that you need to talk with a professional. You are not alone.